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de Havilland Hornet

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The ultimate twin-engined piston aircraft, the Hornet was intended to serve in the Pacific, however the Second World War was over before the type became operational. The de Havilland Hornet would have a long post-war career though, remaining in service until 1956.

Quick Facts
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First flight
28th July 1944
Entered service
February 1946
Total built

Front view
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Side view
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Rear view
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As with other successful aircraft of the period thoughts turned to an improved design of the de Havilland Mosquito and as a result the de Havilland Hornet came to life. Built to a balsa/plywood/aluminium combination and featuring the new low-frontal area Rolls-Royce Merlin engine the Hornet would be the pinnacle in twined engined piston aircraft.

Originally a private venture it was intended for the new aircraft to serve in the Pacific as a long-range fighter and after impressing the Ministry of Aircraft Production Specification F.12/43 was issued around the design. The 28th July 1944 saw the prototype, piloted by Geoffrey de Havilland Jr, fly for the first time with a second prototype ordered and this was able to hold two drop tanks and a 1,000lb bomb load.

An initial order for sixty Hornets was placed with the Royal Air Force receiving the first example of the new type in February 1946 with No. 64 Squadron based at RAF Horsham St Faith having their North American P-51 Mustangs fully replaced by the Hornet F.I, whose armament would be the standard four 20-mm cannons, during March 1946 and thus became the first squadron equipped with this new aircraft. The next Hornet Mk was the F.3 which had an increased fuel capacity, giving it a range of over 2,500 miles, and the addition of a dorsal fin fillet and just over 130 of this Mk were produced. The final de Havilland Hornet was equipped with a F.52 vertical camera and was designated the FR.4 with twelve built.

An interest in the Hornet was also expressed by the Royal Navy who kept an eye on development of the aircraft and during 1946 received three Mk F.Is which had been converted for naval use, which included the addition of a arrestor hook and folding wings, named the Sea Hornet the aircraft flew for the first time a year before on the 19th April 1945 and was followed by deck landing trials with HMS Ocean (R68) by the third prototype. Impressed by the results Specification N.5/44 was issued and 155 aircraft were ordered. 77 of these would be the F. Mk 20 which would be single seat and the rest would be the NF Mk 21 which was a night-fighter version which would house a crew of two.

Entering service after the Second World War (1939 - 1945) the de Havilland Hornet would serve in Malaya with the last operational sortie made on the 21st May 1955 and by the middle of 1956 all Hornets had been removed from operational service with the Sea Hornet remaining in service until 1957.

When production ended 209 Hornets had been built.

Technical Details

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Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Hornet F.1 475 mph 2,500 miles 37,500 ft four 20mm cannons
and two 1,000lb bombs
Hornet PR 2 Photo reconnaissance version, only five built.
Hornet F.3 472 mph 37,500 ft four 20mm cannons
and either 2,000lb bombs or
eight 60lb rocket projectiles
Hornet F.4 Like the PR 2 but twelve built.


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See This Aircraft

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

No known examples currently on public display in the UK.

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